People with Medicare have more choices and options for their Medicare coverage in 2023. Plan costs and covered benefits have changed, so the Area Agency on Aging of East Texas (AAA) encourages people with Medicare to look at their coverage choices and decide the options that best fits their health needs. Open Enrollment for 2023 Medicare health and drug plans begin on Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7, giving individuals a chance to modify their plans.
The changes Medicare recipients can make during Open Enrollment include
Beneficiaries should always shop for a new drug plan, and Medicare Advantage plan each year to ensure they are getting the best coverage for the best price to suit their needs. Plans can be viewed and compared at www.medicare.gov.
“I often hear people say, ‘I’m really happy with my current Medicare prescription plan so I don’t need to call a Benefits Counselor or look at making any changes.’ What you might not realize is the price of your current plan can change every year,” said AAA Director Colleen Halliburton. “If you do not go through the plan review process, you may be surprised on Jan. 1 with higher costs, and those costs will be locked in for another year.”
The AAA is also known as the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) and is available to compare your current coverage with available options and assist you with enrollment at no cost. Speak to a qualified Benefits Counselor by calling the Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-442-8845. You may set up an appointment and be advised over the phone, by virtual meeting, or in person.
Local scheduled presentations
The AAA’s Certified Benefits Counselors have an event scheduled for several counties in the 14-county ETCOG region. These counties include Anderson, Henderson, Marion, Rains and Wood. A list of scheduled presentations with times and locations can be viewed at www.easttexasaaa.org/benefits-counseling. These presentations require an appointment prior to arrival. To reserve your spot, call the Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-442-8845.
Be on alert for enrollment scams
Tips on how to stop fraud during Open Enrollment
For questions about fraud or to report a scam, please contact the Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-888-341-6187.
A student’s well-being is more widely considered at schools as a result of the issues plaguing many children.
These include the negative effects of social media, personal identity issues and the psychological toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.
School counselors are serving as a built-in level of support that extends far beyond only offering guidance on plans after graduation.
At Kimberton Waldorf School, a private college-preparatory co-ed day school in Chester County, school counselor Natalie Schwartz provides support to children in their school environment.
“There is a relationship each child has with home life and school life and they intersect,” Schwartz said. “My role is to integrate those questions and experiences that might impact their experience at school.”
Topics of focus might span from social pressure and academic challenges to teacher relationships.
Schwartz’s counseling support is available to children of all ages, from the school’s early childhood program through high school. Her services are also available to parents who have children enrolled at the school.
“It could be working with one child, to a group of children, to class meetings during school hours or parent meetings,” Schwartz said.
She shared the various instances when she might be called upon.
“A parent might reach out to me to see their child, a teacher might contact me, and kids themselves reach out,” she said.
Some children might be in need of one session, while others might receive weekly counseling.
“I would see them once a week for six weeks and then assess,” she said. “I would refer them out if they need continuous care and a deeper need for therapy.”
For families seeking counseling for their child outside of school, Jeff Laubach is a family counselor located in Spring Township, Berks County, who has seen the toll COVID-19 has taken on teens he counsels.
“Anxiety has been on the rise during COVID and is the most common issue brought up by the teens I am seeing,” Laubach said. “First, in dealing with the isolation of quarantine and virtual instruction and now, with re-acclimatizing to full-time school and face-to-face social situations.”
Laubach said he has seen a rise in teens seeking counseling.
“If they ask, parents should work hard to honor that,” he said.
In addition to his private practice, Laubach has worked with the Berks County Intermediate Unit and is part of the Berks County Crisis Management Flight Team.
“I’ve worked in schools after there has been a crisis,” Laubach said. “Sometimes it involves working with groups and sometimes individuals. The benefit is being able to provide services in a natural environment for the students.”
Schwartz’s counseling sessions at Kimberton Waldorf School deliver children a space to talk. She said that identity issues are a common Topic she is seeing within her counseling work.
“Identity issues associated with feeling a pressure to belong to a group that they don’t actually belong to,” she said. “A big part of what I’m doing is to gently guide kids through that.”
An example she provided is someone who doesn’t identify with a particular minority group, whether that has to do with gender or politics, but joins for acceptance and to satisfy a need to belong.
“In this nebulous time, they grab hold of it too prematurely at a time when they aren’t developmentally ready to do so,” she said.
Schwartz said another area of increasing attention involves the impact of technology undermining kids’ self-confidence.
“It’s guiding kids through this difficult era with cellphones and social media,” she said “It’s manifesting into the phenomena of children having a lack of sense of self and being less sure of who they are.”
Schwartz said that COVID-19 likely impacted the rise in use of social media due to children yearning for connection during isolation.
“It’s huge right now with how kids are really out of touch with themselves and are always second guessing themselves,” she said.
At Kimberton Waldorf School, parents are encouraged to take the school’s recommendations surrounding their philosophy on media and recognize that there are inherent influences related to any kind of media.
According to Schwartz, having a cellphone can impact a time of complex navigation for a child.
“Kids might come from an intact family, but with the influence of social media, it adds a complexity to their emotional and psychological landscape that they are navigating as they grow into adults in the world,” she said. “Kids without a phone are already going through this and it adds more complexity.”
She said that in the process of navigating this cultural trend, some parents don’t want to deny their kids a part of the world.
“I focus my work on how to guide parents into knowing how to hold back the phone and not feeling you are overprotecting your child, Schwartz said.
If a cellphone is part of a child’s life, Schwartz’s approach is different.
“It’s teaching how to engage in a positive relationship with it and manage it,” she said.
Schwartz said she has witnessed the repercussions of cellphone usage.
“I have seen a definite difference in children’s behavior and emotional well-being from before they had a phone and after they had one,” she said. “I think every parent would agree with me on that one.”
Schwartz’s work doesn’t end with the students she counsels.
“A big part of what I do is circle back with the parent or teacher and have private meetings with them and put everything on the table and work it through,” she said.
With open enrollment for the 2023 Medicare plan year beginning Oct. 15, to Dec. 7, 2022, the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) wants Oregonians to know about free help available including the Oregon Guide to Medicare Insurance Plans.
The Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program within the ODHS Office of Aging and People with Disabilities (APD) is available to help Oregonians understand their Medicare options and benefits, provide enrollment guidance and help people detect and avoid Medicare scams.
Oregonians who need help navigating Medicare open enrollment are encouraged to call SHIBA at 800-722-4134 (toll-free) or learn more by visiting the SHIBA website at SHIBA.Oregon.gov. The 2023 Oregon Guide to Medicare Insurance Plans will be available on the SHIBA website on Oct. 18, 2022. This year’s enrollment is especially important as recently passed legislation will lower Medicare costs for some.
“With new changes to Medicare through the Inflation Reduction Act, it’s important that people understand how these changes may affect their benefits. SHIBA certified counselors can help people make informed decisions to choose the plan that works best for them,” said Jane-ellen Weidanz, who oversees SHIBA as APD Long Term Services and Supports Administrator.
SHIBA counselors have a long track record in helping Oregonians. Last year SHIBA counselors conducted more than 16,000 one-on-one appointments in person, over the phone and virtually to help people with Medicare questions. Among the calls received during last year’s open enrollment period, there were more than 700 reports of Medicare scams or fraudulent marketing tactics. Questions Oregonians had included what to do after being wrongfully signed up for a plan or being charged for services that weren’t provided.
SHIBA certified counselors can help people report scams to Medicare and educate people on how to avoid Medicare scams or fraud. “Our No. 1 tip for fraud prevention is for people to keep their Medicare number safe ̶ do not deliver it out to anyone who calls you about Medicare. You do not need to provide your Medicare ID number to get information about plans.” said Weidanz.
About the Oregon Department of Human Services
The mission of the Oregon Department of Human Services is to help Oregonians in their own communities achieve well-being and independence through opportunities that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity.
About the Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance program
The Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program is a statewide network of certified counselors volunteering in their communities to help all Oregonians make educated Medicare decisions. SHIBA offers free, objective, confidential and local one-on-one health insurance counseling and assistance to people with Medicare and their families.
Choosing the right health plan can help save you money. JHU provides resources to help you determine which plan is right for you, what doctors and hospitals are in your plan's network, and how to compare cost and quality. Making an informed decision about your health coverage can benefit you both medically and financially.
Before you enroll in your 2023 benefits, use ALEX, the university's interactive decision support tool. ALEX acts as a virtual benefits counselor to help you learn more about your options. ALEX will ask you a few questions about your health care needs (your answers are anonymous), crunch some numbers, and recommend a medical and/or dental plan that's best for your personal needs.
Using ALEX is simple. You won't have to dig through your insurance records, but if you'd like to prepare for the questions about your medical and dental needs, it helps to know:
By asking you questions, ALEX estimates the total yearly out-of-pocket costs (a combination of your premium contributions and the charges for services you plan to use) for each plan and recommends the one with the lowest overall cost to you based on your personal preferences. Visit myalex.com/jhu/2023 to get started.
Counselors with the Mesa County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program will be available to help people enroll for Medicare benefits.
Counselors with the State Health Insurance Program will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 28 and Dec. 6 as well as Nov. 1, 9, 18, 22 and 30.
Open enrollment for the 2023 Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage Plans will continue through Dec. 7.
SHIP counselors offer free services. The state-trained and certified counselors don’t sell or endorse any insurance companies or products. They help Medicare-qualified individuals review options for Medicare, including prescription drug coverage and the Advantage Plan, and make informed decisions about their care.
For more information about SHIP counseling and other services offered by Mesa County RSVP, call (970) 243-9839 or visit www.RSVPGrandJunction.org.
Formulated by Remedy Organics' Founder and Certified Nutritional Health Counselorusing high quality certified organic ingredients to provide functional benefits that energize, digest, protect, and heal
NEW YORK, Oct. 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Remedy Organics, the leading producer of award-winning plant-based functional beverages, unveils its newly elevated packaging and ready-to-drink immune supporting Wellness Shots. The updated products are now available in a more convenient shelf stable format, which are offered in four varieties: Heal, Protect, Energize and Digest.
Focused on a holistic approach to optimal health, Remedy Organics' Wellness Shots are centered around providing immune support and include additional functional ingredients that have been shown to boost energy, aid in digestion, metabolism, and support the body's natural defense. Remedy Organics' Wellness Shots are bolstered with ingredients such as elderberry and ginger for immune support, turmeric for inflammation, cayenne for metabolism, Japanese matcha for energy, and prebiotics for gut health. The available four SKUs are also formulated with certified organic ingredients, contain 150% Vitamin C, and are all rich in Vitamin D and Zinc. The updated packaging features vibrant colors, which highlight the key functional ingredients and benefits.
"The beauty of these Wellness Shots is that they are made to fit conveniently into your everyday lifestyle and can be taken any time throughout your day", said Cindy Kasindorf, founder of Remedy Organics. "Our Wellness Shots can be taken every day to support wellness throughout the year and when feeling run down. You can kickstart your day with our Wellness Shots, take in-between meals, as a hangover remedy, the possibilities are endless!"
The Remedy Organics Wellness Shot line is available at leading stores nationwide and can also be purchased online at www.remedyorganics.com and amazon.com.
ABOUT REMEDY ORGANICS:
Remedy Organics is a leading producer of award-winning plant-based, functional beverages including Wellness Shakes and Wellness Shots. Founded by Cindy Kasindorf, Remedy Organics is the only functional beverage company led by a CertifiedNutritional Health Counselor. Remedy Organics products are truly multi-functional and packed with adaptogenic herbs, superfoods and ayurvedics - providing health and wellness benefits that go well beyond general nutrition. Remedy Organics beverages are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and non GMO; all formulated with the highest quality, certified organic, plant-based ingredients to help unleash the body's natural healing power. Inspired by the quote, "Let Food be Thy Medicine and Medicine be Thy Food," the company's mission is to make functional nutrition accessible and convenient to all. Remedy Organics products are available at major retailers across the US, online at Amazon.com, and remedyorganics.com. Discover more at @remedyorganics and remedyorganics.com.
View original content to download multimedia:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/remedy-organics-unveils-their-new-immune-supporting-wellness-shots-just-in-time-for-cold-and-flu-season-301647665.html
SOURCE Remedy Organics
October 10 is World Mental Health Day. This week, Sixth Tone is looking at the realities and challenges of mental health care in China.
Just a few short years ago, visitors to the Shanghai Mental Health Center, where I work, would come in secret. Seeing a psychiatrist or psychotherapist was something to be ashamed of — a sign of weakness, rather than of strength.
Today, we might be China’s unlikeliest viral “check-in” spot. Visitors post pictures of themselves holding “No. 600” coffees and milk teas — a reference to our address, No. 600 South Wan Ping Road — on social media, while masks featuring our name and logo are sought-after accessories. Even our mooncakes, printed with our logo and sold to employees through the hospital canteen ahead of Mid-Autumn Festival, have become collectibles.
A mooncake and canvas bag printed with the center’s logo for sale to employees. As attitudes toward mental health change, the mental health centers have become unlikely viral hot spots. From Shanghai Mental Health Center via The Paper
If it’s not already obvious, Chinese attitudes toward mental health have changed significantly in the past decade. This shift is in large part due to the ongoing pandemic, which has caused widespread feelings of fear, anxiety, irritability, depression, anger, and despair. Together with the country’s strict pandemic prevention and control measures, it has exacerbated emotional and mental problems and stimulated demand for professional services like psychotherapy and psychological counseling.
Unfortunately, the suddenness of this demand has caught mental health professionals and regulators off guard. China’s psychological counseling industry is in a state of chaos, with no national standard for its practice, no authoritative accreditation or certification process for practitioners, and no professional organization or group empowered to oversee counselors and ensure compliance.
Although a few health care institutions offer professional psychological counseling, psychotherapy, and psychiatric services, these are concentrated in a handful of cities and simply cannot meet the mental health needs of a country as large and diverse as China. In the absence of better options, there has been a boom in unofficial and unregulated “counseling clinics.” The area around our hospital is now home to several such clinics, which generally operate outside regulators’ purview and often charge more for their services than public institutions.
Starting a counseling clinic in China isn’t fundamentally different from opening a barbershop. There are no professional licensing requirements; all any aspiring counselor needs to do is register their shop with the local market supervision authority. Unsurprisingly, no one knows how many of the counselors at these private clinics have received specialized training in the field.
Even those who are “certified” are not necessarily qualified. In 2001, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security introduced the country’s first psychological counselor certification program. Offered through a biannual nationwide examination, the certification fell into the “commercial service” category. This meant counseling was treated like any other labor skill, such as cosmetology or baking. All it required was a few months of training and a passing grade.
Between 2002 and 2017, hundreds of thousands of people across the country received their psychological counseling certification. But what kind of professional counseling services could they really offer with only a basic knowledge of counseling picked up in a few months?
China thankfully did away with this certification in 2017. Psychological counseling nowadays is increasingly viewed as a form of health care, and there is a growing agreement that it needs to be held to higher standards. But in the five years since the psychological counseling certification was eliminated, the country has yet to come up with a reasonable replacement licensing program, and a majority of the counselors operating in the private sector today entered the industry on the back of that now-defunct certification.
Another major problem with these commercial counseling agencies is their very nature as private businesses. That’s the thing about mental health care: the more professional the service provider, the harder it is for them to make money. Formal counseling is a time-consuming, individualized service, and qualified counselors must make time to attend continued education and training programs to keep up with advances in the field. All of that costs money while reducing the number of clients you can see.
For patients, the proliferation of unqualified, profit-seeking clinics is a serious problem. Low-quality counseling services aren’t just a waste of money, they can also be dangerous. Part of any real counselor training program is learning which cases can be handled through one’s own services, and which require a referral to other psychotherapists or psychiatric institutions. Counselors unqualified to make those judgments can do real harm to people with more serious mental illnesses.
Addressing the issues plaguing China’s counseling industry will not be easy. First, the country needs to designate an administrative authority to oversee the profession, ideally one with expertise in regulating health care. That body can then take the lead in setting new regulations for the industry and auditing practitioners.
One potential option would be to empower an industry organization or professional association to help supervise counselors. That is the typical practice in many Western countries, though any such group would need to be authorized by national law or a regulatory body to operate in China. Regardless, delay is no longer an option. Given the growing demand for mental health services, it’s long past time for China to take mental health care seriously.
Translator: Katherine Tse; editors: Wu Haiyun and Kilian O’Donnell; portrait artist: Zhou Zhen.
(Header image: The gate of Shanghai Mental Health Center, 2021. Chen Yuyu/VCG)
Participating Medicare enrollees are invited to connect with Boulder County Area Agency on Aging counselors starting Thursday for assistance during Medicare open enrollment. The open enrollment period runs from Saturday through Dec. 7, during which time people can review or change their plans for next year.
BCAAA Medicare counselors are State Health Insurance Programs certified and can help enrollees by comparing their current plan against other options. Counseling appointments begin Thursday and take place both virtually and over the phone.
To start the scheduling process, enrollees can call BCAAA’s Medicare Appointment Counseling Line at 303-441-1546 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published 6:20 pm Thursday, October 13, 2022
Scott Harwood Jr. CIC CISR of Harwood & Son Insurance in Farmville was recently recognized for professional leadership and advanced knowledge by the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors.
Harwood was recognized for 20 years of successfully maintaining the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation. The CIC designation requires an annual continuing education update ensuring that his education is always up-to-date and relevant.
Harwood’s ongoing allegiance and support of the CIC Program is a testament to the value he places on “real world” education and professional growth.
“Harwood’s clients, associates and the insurance profession as a whole benefit from such leadership and a strong commitment to continuing education,” stated President and CEO of The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research, Dr. William J. Hold.
The CIC Program is nationally recognized as the premier continuing education program for insurance professionals offered in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
On Aug. 24, the Biden administration announced the Student Debt Relief Plan, a one-time assistance program for low- and middle-income families earning up to $125,000 for individuals or $250,000 for couples. The program erases up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients.
Student Loan Forgiveness: Mark These 4 Dates On Your Calendar Now
Find Out: Stimulus Payments Are Coming to These States in October
On Oct. 11, the administration unveiled the program’s application, a simple web form that is set to go live online any day. It requires applicants only to self-certify that they meet the eligibility requirements.
Inevitably, some borrowers will be getting bad news.
“Student loan forgiveness can significantly impact your financial life and deliver you a fresh start,” said Kami Hsueh, a certified student loan repayment counselor and board advisor at Fiona.com. “Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible. Realizing you don’t qualify for student loan forgiveness could leave you devastated and unsure of what to do. However, student loan forgiveness is just one among many options. So, if it fails, it is time to consider other options.”
If your application is rejected, don’t panic — that’s not necessarily the end of it.
“Most people do not know they can appeal the denial, which is a less discussed topic,” Hsueh said. “You can submit a complaint through the FSA feedback system, citing your reasons for complaining or proving you qualify. While it will take time for the investigation to be conducted and concluded, you could stand a chance of getting accepted.”
While you’re waiting for the results of your appeal, check with Federal Student Aid to see if you qualify for other relief initiatives including:
Public service loan forgiveness
Teacher loan forgiveness
Closed school discharge
Perkins Loan cancellation or discharge
Total and permanent disability discharge
Unpaid refund discharge
Take Our Poll: Do You Have an Emergency Fund Established?
Your employer might offer student loan assistance as an employee benefit — or might be willing to consider it if you ask.
“A strategy that borrowers often overlook is to ask their current employer to assist with student loan debt repayment or to seek a new employer who will,” said Patricia Roberts, chief operating officer at Gift of College. “Given the number of employees who are changing jobs and the employer cost that is associated with employee turnover, more and more employers are recognizing the need to offer student loan assistance as a financial wellness benefit to stand out in a competitive environment to attract and retain talented individuals.”
Roberts cited the CARES Act — which allowed employers to offer their workers up to $5,250 annually in tax-exempt student loan repayment assistance — and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which extended the initiative through 2025.
Some employers might not know that Internal Revenue Code Section 127 allows them to take a $5,250 tax deduction for offering student loan repayment assistance — and they might jump at the chance to add a unique and enticing perk to their benefits package.
“Those who are currently employed should ask their employers whether they are aware of and willing to offer this benefit,” Roberts said. “Those who are currently looking for jobs should seek prospective employers who have such a benefit in place. With many employers unaware of their ability to offer tax-free student loan repayment assistance, an employee who asks about it may be greatly appreciated for bringing this timely development to the employer’s attention.”
If your boss isn’t receptive to the idea, your lender certainly doesn’t want you to go into default and will probably be willing to work with you if you’re struggling to keep up with payments.
“Get in touch with your lender and work out a repayment plan that works for you,” Hsueh said. “Fortunately, there are different plans — e.g., the income-based repayment plan or the Pay As You Earn plan — which you can use to repay your student loan for federal student loans. If you took a private student loan, these options might not apply to you. However, you can still contact your lender and discuss payment plans that can work for you depending on your financial situation.”
With the holidays approaching, you could always ask friends and family to skip traditional gifts and contribute a comparable amount to your loan debt, instead.
“Rather than the well-intentioned shirt that doesn’t fit or another gift that may just add to the clutter in one’s home, a contribution of an equal amount toward outstanding student loan debt can help reduce the borrower’s stress level and the amount owed,” said Roberts, whose own college debt crowdfunding platform lets borrowers set up gift-based fund drives. “It’s an easy gift to deliver and receive, and one that helps to Strengthen the well-being of the recipient. Friends and family may actually welcome the opportunity to save time shopping for just the right gift and instead help in such a meaningful way.”
If you have federal student debt, you should apply whether you think you meet the qualifications or not.
“There really hasn’t been a final determination on eligibility for the one-time forgiveness program,” said Michael Lux, debt attorney and founder of Student Loan Sherpa. “Right now, the Biden Administration is focused on beating the lawsuits challenging the program. The rules are in flux, and bad news today may not be permanent. Borrowers should apply right away when the form becomes available, even if they don’t think their loans are eligible. A rejection one day could be a future approval if there is a rule change.”
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: You Don’t Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness: Now What?